TAMPA BAY, fla — Families around the U.S. and right here in Tampa Bay used the CDC's eviction moratorium to keep a roof over their heads, but now they're on the clock. A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for landlords to continue evictions against the wishes of the Biden Administration.
"It is a going to be a scary time coming up," Metropolitan Ministries Chief Programs Officer Christine Long said.
Long says they're bracing for what she called a "tsunami" of people needing a place to stay. She says they're helping five times as many families before the pandemic.
"The demand is way higher than the supply at Metropolitan Ministries and really across the whole community," Long said.
And that's bad news for Metropolitan Ministries since Long says all 250 of their beds are full.
"It's going to take at least three months to six months to really get yourself back housed again once you find yourself in a homeless situation," Long said.
Unfortunately, the timeline between finding housing and being evicted is drastically different.
"Eviction could happen to someone in five to seven days," Attorney Mercy Roberg said. "Could happen on Monday if the landlord does all their filing today and they were already that far along in the court system."
Since last October, Roberg and her team at the Community Law Program in Pinellas County have helped families avoid eviction. At first, it was just 20-30 families a week, now they're up to 100.
"The issue becomes with the moratorium ending, there's not a lot of legal defenses for non-payment of rent," Roberg said.
Roberg says now is the time to communicate with your landlord to work something out, offering up whatever money you can.
"If you're receiving that child tax, yes, you've got a lot of bills to pay, but you need a roof over your head first," Roberg said. "Landlords are so much more willing to work with a tenant when they know that they're trying. So, if you've got $10 to offer the landlord, that's a good-faith effort."
One of the best resources at your disposal is 211. An operator can connect you to the organization that best fits your need. According to their dashboard, in the last year they've taken more than 36,000 calls for housing and shelter.
The following organizations can also help you if you're facing eviction:
- Pinellas County Community Law Program: 727-582-7480
- Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program: 727-582-7475
- Gulf Coast Legal Services Housing Stability Assistance: 727-821-0726
- Bay Area Legal Services: 800-625-2257
You should also check in with your county's rental assistance program to see how they can help you.